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People of all colors, including those with brown and black skin, get skin cancer. Even if you never sunburn, you can get skin cancer.
When skin cancer develops in people of color, it’s often in a late stage when diagnosed. This can be deadly when the person has melanoma, a type of skin cancer that can spread quickly. Treatment for any type of skin cancer can be difficult in the late stages.
The good news is you can find skin cancer early. Found early, most skin cancers, including melanoma, can be cured.
There’s also a lot you can do to reduce your risk of getting skin cancer.
Because skin cancer begins on the skin, this cancer can be found early. The best way to find skin cancer is to check your own skin.
Here’s what dermatologists recommend for people who have skin of color:
|What you can do
||Skin self-exam: This is a full body exam of your skin|
|What you need
||A full-length mirror and a partner or handheld mirror|
|What to look for
People who have skin of color want to look for the following:
|How to check your skin||
|Where to look closely||
|What to do if you find something||See a dermatologist. You can find a dermatologist near you by using Find a Dermatologist.
|Why this is important||Performed monthly, you can find changes to the spots on your skin, which could be skin cancer. When treated early, treatment often cures skin cancer. In the later stages, skin cancer can turn deadly and treatment can be difficult.|
The following pictures show some examples of what skin cancer can look like in people of color.
|Photo courtesy of Calvin O. McCall, MD, FAAD
||Photo courtesy of Calvin O. McCall, MD, FAAD|
Dermatologists in the United States tell their patients with skin of color to reduce their risk of getting skin cancer by doing the following:
People of color have a lower risk than whites of getting skin cancer. But they still have a risk. Monthly skin self-exams can help you find skin cancer early when a cure is likely.
Images 1: Thinkstock
Images 3 – 11 used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology:
Agbai ON, MD, Buster K, et al. “Skin cancer and photoprotection in people of color: A review and recommendations for physicians and the public.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2014;70(4):748-62.
American Academy of Dermatology. “Dermatologists provide recommendations for preventing and detecting skin cancer in people of color.” News release issued February 4, 2014.
Gloster HM and Neal K. “Skin cancer in skin of color.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2006;55(5):741-60.